Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Garcetti, Greuel throw jabs in their first LA mayoral debate

Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti

Wendy Greuel Campaign/Eric Garcetti campaign

Los Angeles mayoral candidates, Controller Wendy Greuel (left) and City Councilman Eric Garcetti (right) met Thursday in their first debate.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013In a relatively tame debate, Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel engaged in light sparring more than heavy punching Thursday night at American Jewish University in L.A.

“I am not the chosen candidate of the downtown power brokers,” said Garcetti, referring to how Greuel has been  the beneficiary of nearly $3 million in spending by city labor unions. “That is a difference that allows me to be independent.”

Greuel said the support of both city labor unions and the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce demonstrates she can build coalitions.

“I am proud of the diverse support that I’ve had,” she said.

Both are city hall insiders and longtime Democrats, but they sought to dispel the widespread sentiment among voters that there is not a lot of difference between them.


Education leaders divulge what they want from LA's next mayor

A student on his way to school walks pas


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants the leading mayoral candidates to lay out their education platforms. KPCC talked to three education leaders about what those platforms should include.

In his final State of the City address this week, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa challenged the candidates hoping to succeed him — Eric Garcetti and Wendy Gruel — to make education a priority.

Ever since, there’s been a lot of talk about what the next mayor of Los Angeles should do for public education. KPCC talked to three leaders in the education field about what they expect from the city’s next leader.

The mayor of Los Angeles doesn’t control the public school system or have any formal role in the Los Angeles Unified District. But, whoever is elected in May will have something that most stakeholders lack.

"Clearly, the mayor often has a platform that many folks that are involved in education do not have," said Elise Buik, president of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. 

Buik wants the school district to replicate high-performance schools and transform low-performing schools more quickly.


Evacuation: White powder scare blows through LA Mayor’s Office

Alice Walton/KPCC

L.A. City Hall after an evacuation when a staffer received a letter with white powder inside it, Thursday, April 11, 2013.

A staffer for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa opened a letter Thursday that had white power inside. The front hall of the Mayor's Office was evacuated and closed off.

The male staffer who opened the letter is now stuck in the men's room, which is blocked off with yellow tape. He went to wash his hands, but was quarantined because a hazardous materials team thinks he could have been contaminated.

Others at City Hall seemed to think it was unlikely to turn out to be something dangerous, with people in the rotunda making jokes.

Mayor's spokesman Peter Sanders says the letter was opened at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

He says police and firefighters responded and 12 employees have evacuated. They remained outside waiting to return about an hour later.

Sanders says the mayor was in the office when the letter was received, but left for a meeting.


L.A. mayor's race: Garcetti, Greuel face off in live TV debate Thursday

Los Angeles Mayor


Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel face off in the first debate since the March 5 primary.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013Amid increasingly bitter exchanges, Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel are to engage Thursday night in their first face-to-face debate since the March primary election.  It takes place at 7 p.m. at the American Jewish University and will be broadcast live on KABC, Channel 7.

In the primary, Garcetti won 33 percent of the vote to Greuel’s 29 percent. He has since widened that advantage. A new ABC7/SurveyUSA  poll finds Garcetti leading Greuel 49 percent to 40 percent — a two-point increase for him since the last poll two weeks ago.

Earlier this week, the candidates criticized each other for labor union support and challenged each other to a debate focused on education, which will likely take place next month.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is termed out of office July 1. The mayoral election to succeed him is May 21.


San Fernando Valley Sen. Alex Padilla to run for Secretary of State

State Senator Alex Padilla at the Democratic National Convention last year in Charlotte, North Carolina. Padilla plans to run for California Secretary of State in 2014.

State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) said Thursday he’ll run for California Secretary of State in 2014.

Padilla, 40, said he wants to use the role as the state's top elections official to modernize the voting process.

“We have a generation of young people who have their smart phones attached at the hip,” said Padilla. The MIT graduate says California should use that technology to engage them.

“To push information out about elections and candidates, to pre-register or register, to allow people to confirm that their ballot was counted—these are all things that are easily done with the technology that’s available today,” said Padilla.

Padilla's bid for Secretary of State is his first run at statewide office. He served on the Los Angeles City Council for 7 1/2 years before winning his State Senate seat in 2006. San Fernando Valley voters re-elected Padilla in 2010.